Motorcycle Camping Meals: Dehydrated Red Beans & Rice
There’s nothing quite like being self sufficient on a motorcycle. This year, I took my motorcycle camping agenda to the next level: making my own dehydrated meals to eat on the road. While I love to support small businesses (bars and restaurants) in any area I ride, sometimes it is much more efficient to be able to cook your own food on a trip. Additionally, it’s much more budget friendly if I can cook at least one meal a day on my own.
This red beans and rice recipe is one of the first motorcycle camping meals I created for my travels, and after many trials of this recipe, I feel like it’s time to share the details so that you can make it yourself! It’ll also cost you about $2 per meal, leaving more money for gas and the occasional ice cream stop. In this blog, I’ll take you through the cooking, dehydrating, packaging, and rehydration processes of this backpacking style meal.
What’s a Backpacking Style Meal?
Motorcycling and Backpacking are quite different lifestyles, but they hold a multitude of similarities. Keeping your pack light is essential on the trail, and it’s also essential on your motorcycle. Additionally, since you can only carry what you need on your back during a thru-hike, it makes it very easy to translate this lifestyle to motorcycling, as your bike can only hold so much cargo. Backpacking style meals come in a variety of forms, but they tend to be lightweight, nutrient dense, and compact, in order for a hiker to carry days worth of food with them at a time. These characteristics can easily be applied to motorcycle camping meals.
So what’s the difference between a backpacking style meal and a regular one? Well, it’s not always going to look pretty for a photo, haha. When your meal is dehydrated and rehydrated, you can’t plate it to look like a fine cuisine made in a kitchen. I assure you, it’ll taste the same way it did in your kitchen, though. Second, because high fat content can make a dehydrated meal go rancid, many backpacking recipes are altered to exclude fatty content. This red beans and rice recipe might not look like a bowl that came out of a southern Louisiana kitchen, but it’ll taste great after a long days ride nonetheless.
Before We Get Started
I want to discuss some trial and errors, and additional options for this recipe. First, let’s discuss the meat being used in this recipe. I first dehydrated turkey sausage in with my meals, but found that I personally didn’t like the texture of it when rehydrated. As a solution, I tried the recipe with summer sausage, which was added at the time of rehydration and packaged separately. While it wasn’t an “authentic” red beans and rice flavor, it was still a great meal with better texture. While you’ll need to package more items, and the summer sausage wont be as compact or light as the dehydrated meat, it will pack a better flavor and texture in the end.
Are you, or is someone you’re riding with, a vegetarian? Perhaps consider making this a vegetarian friendly motorcycle camping meal! All you would need to do is use vegetable stock versus chicken, and eliminate meat from the immediate recipe.
The first time I made this recipe, I added cornbread cubes to the bag prior to sealing. This was a great touch, but we aren’t going to discuss it in this recipe, as it is not a key ingredient. It’s a great addition/option if you wish to experiment with your own version moving forward.
Lastly, if you wish to use minute rice for this to have a fresher feel to your rice in the end, you could very easily make the vegetable base of this soup, and during packaging, add rice to each packet prior to vacuum sealing. However, adding the rice during the cooking process does allow it to soak up some of the flavor, which is ideal. Please tweak this recipe as you wish! Let’s get to the nitty gritty!
- 1 Medium White or Yellow Onion
- 2 Bell Peppers (Green, Red, whatever you want to use)
- 2-3 Smoked Turkey Sausage Links OR Summer Sausage if you choose to add your meat during the rehydration process
- 4 Cloves of Garlic
- 32 oz of Chicken Stock
- 2 Chipotle Peppers in Adobo Sauce, chopped
- 1 18oz Can of Diced Tomatoes
- 3 Green Onions, Chopped
- 2 Cups of White Rice
- 3 Cans of Dark Kidney Beans, Drained
- 1 Can Pinto Beans, Drained
- 2 TBS Smoked Paprika (or to taste, I use a hefty amount for a more smokey flavor.)
- 2 TBS Cajun Seasoning (or to taste)
- 1 TSP Ground Pepper
- Dehydator – I use a Nesco, it’s very affordable and works perfectly.
- Dehydrator Fruit Roll Sheets
- Extra Trays
- Food Saver & Storage Bags for Individual Packaging
- Parchment Paper
- Cutting Board
- Large Pot
- Jetboil Camp Stove system (For Rehydration)
- If you intend to dehydrate your turkey sausage versus adding summer sausage later on, you’ll want to make 1/4” slices of the meat, and then cut them into halves. Why Turkey Sausage links instead of full fat links? Because the high-fat content in regular sausage will cause your dehydrated meal to go rancid quickly. The shelf life of a dehydrated meal will be very short if you use full-fat sausage links or any other high-fat meat. In my experience with rehydrating the turkey sausage, it never goes back to the same texture as it was originally, so that may be a turn off for some people. If so, skip to step 3, and package summer sausage slices in their own vacuum sealed package to be added to your meal during rehydration.
- Simmer the chopped turkey sausage on medium high heat. The objective is to cook as much fat out of the sausage as possible, so do not add any oil. After 10-15 Minutes, place the sausage in a strainer under hot water and finish removing as much of the grease as possible. Set aside.
- While rinsing the Turkey Sausage, add the chopped Bell Peppers, Onions, and Olive Oil to the pot. Cook until softened.
- Once vegetables are softened, add minced Garlic and Chopped Chipotle Peppers and stir for 30 seconds.
- Add Spices (remember, you can always add more later to your taste preference)
- Combine and add Chicken Broth, Diced Tomatoes, Kidney and Pinto Beans, and bring to a boil.
- Add rinsed turkey sausage and white rice. Simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is cooked.
- Let cool before adding to the dehydrator.
Dehydration and Storage Instructions:
- Set up your dehydrator! Place the Fruit Roll sheets on each tray that you anticipate using. You’ll want to keep the trays “thinned” out to make the dehydration process easier. Don’t overload the trays. It’ll just take longer to dehydrate.
- Once contents are on the trays, stack them up and set your dehydrator to 150*. The dehydration process will take roughly 24 hours, depending on humidity where you live. Flip contents after 12 hours, and break larger pieces apart as needed to allow for more moisture to be removed from the recipe.
- Once dehydrated, place contents into a bowl and weigh on a scale (remember to zero out the scale with the bowl on top). This recipe will easily make 12 very filling servings. If your final weight is 24oz, divide that by 12 to see how much each individual package should weigh. This would make each meal roughly 2oz, dehydrated. (You can adjust the final serving amount if you feel that you have more or less than 12 servings. This is completely your choice.)
- If you are not using pre-cut food saver bags, prep 12 bags for storage. Remember, make them slightly larger so that you can add water and cook within the bag later on.
- Use the wax paper to line your food saver bags. This helps the jagged edges of the dehydrated food not puncture your storage bags.
- Weigh out your portions and individually vacuum seal each portion.
- When you’re not on the road, store your meals in the freezer for longer shelf life. If there is no meat in your pre-made meals, they may last a long while on the shelf.
- If you did not add the meat during the cooking process and plan to add summer sausage during rehydration at camp: immediately before your trip, create individual portions of sliced summer sausage that can be added at camp.
To save on fuel, I used the “Pouch Method” to rehydrate my meals. These insulated pouches are very small and inexpensive to make. You can watch this video on YouTube that I found and make one yourself: https://youtu.be/1RjviJ0AlVI.
- Bring water to a boil in your Jetboil. Water amounts will differ based on your portion size. You’ll want enough water to cover your food by about .5” in the food saver bag.
- While you wait for water to boil, cut open the food saver bag and remove the parchment paper lining.
- Once water is boiling, remove from heat and poor into the bag of dehydrated food. Again, make sure to cover your meal by at least half an inch.
- Place food in your DIY thermal pouch for at least 15 minutes. I tend to leave mine in for 20-25 minutes, and it is still piping hot when I remove it.
- Remove your rehydrated meal and eat it directly from the bag, or place bag back in your Jetboil for a more structured “bowl.” This method requires less cleanup, however you’re welcome to pour your meal directly into a bowl or camp mug of your choosing if you wish.
- Clean up your mess and remember to leave no trace at your campsite.
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